Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 16, 2020 / 10:00 am
The Italian businessman at the center of the Vatican’s London property scandal is asking a British court to rule that he acted in good faith. Lawyers for Raffaele Mincione are arguing that the Holy See is trying to nullify the deal, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to new reports.
Mincione filed two suits in the High Court of England and Wales earlier this year against the Holy See Secretariat of State and the holding company through which it controls the building at 60 Sloane Ave. in London, purchased in stages from Mincione for some $300 million.
Details of the suits had not previously been made public, but on Sept. 15, Law360 reported that Mincione is seeking declaratory relief from the court, asking that a judge rule he did not behave improperly in his dealings with the Vatican.
On June 17, Mincione’s company WRM Capinvest filed suit against the Jersey-registered holding company, 60 SA Ltd., through which the Vatican owns the building. In a separate action, Luxembourg-based Athena Capital Fund SICAV-FIS SCA, a unit of Athena Capital Fund, which is also owned by Mincione, filed a commercial contract claim against the Secretariat of State. It is unclear when that second action was first filed.
Mincione’s lawyers argue in court documents that he and his companies "acted in good faith in and about the transactions and the negotiation and execution of the contractual documents," according to Law360.
A spokesman for Mincione did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.
On July 15, Vatican prosecutors, working with Italian authorities, executed a search and seizure warrant against Mincione at an hotel in Rome. Investigators seized electronic devices, including cellular phones and iPads.
The search and seizure was authorized by Roman magistrate Maria Teresa Gerace, following a request by the Vatican Promoter of Justice Gian Piero Milano and his deputy Alessandro Diddi. The search was carried out by Italian state police. Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra reported that Mincione, accompanied by his lawyers, presented himself to police by prior arrangement, after the warrant was issued.